New blueberry variety honors benefactor and UF alumnus Alto Straughn

By: Brad Buck

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Blueberry Gall Midge Suggested Controls

Blueberry gall midge (Dasineura oxycoccana)is a significant insect pest of blueberries in Florida. Adults only live for 2-3 days, and lay their eggs in floral and leaf buds as the bud scales begin to separate, typically during winter months in Florida. The larvae feed on developing floral and leaf bud tissues, resulting in bud damage, abortion, or death, with reduced or no bloom from affected buds (Figure 1). 

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Hydrogen Cyanamide

Update on Use and Ongoing HC Research in Florida Blueberries

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Opting for Organic?

Key Considerations for Organic Blueberry Production

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Glimmer of Hope

Trump Administration to Investigate Mexican Trade Practices on Heels of Public Hearings



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Do More Bees Mean More Berries? A Blueberry Pollination Research Update

Blueberry growers know that to get good yields, you need bees. But guidelines for optimal bee stocking densities are limited and outdated. There is also a lack of management recommendations for improving blueberry pollination, especially in Florida. The value provided by pollinators and the limited information available on pollination has led some growers to increase bee stocking densities with little guarantee that this will improve flower visitation or yields. Over the past two years, we have focused on the following research questions with the goal to develop management recommendations for enhancing pollination, fruit set, and overall yields: 1) Do farms with higher stocking densities of managed honey bees receive more honey bee visits to blueberry flowers? 2) Does a higher visitation rate by managed honey bees result in greater fruit set and yields? 3) Do farms with managed bumble bees see enhanced pollination and yields? And finally, 4) What is the role of wild bees in pollinating southern highbush blueberries in Florida?

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Publishers Interlude

As we enter the fall season, Florida blueberry farmers are in planning mode. Across the region, growers are taking measures to prepare for the next season’s crop with attention to pests, new research, and fall and early winter suggested management items. This edition of The Blueberry News has all that information, as well as great updates on UF’s Blueberry Breeding Program. You can also find an introduction from J. Scott Angle, the new Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of UF/IFAS.

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Executive Director’s Letter: One Step Closer to Fair Trade

In August, USTR in conjunction with the USDA and DOC held two public hearings: “Trade-Distorting Policies that may be Affecting Seasonal and Perishable Products in the U.S. Commerce.” 

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President's Letter: A Plan for the Future

I often get asked what are my thoughts of the Florida blueberry industry going forward.  This is a difficult question to answer much like someone asking what will the stock market return next year.  No one really knows for sure, there are a lot of variables.  However there are some things that we do know.  

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Grower's Thoughts: UF Blueberry Breeding Program Update

The University of Florida blueberry breeding program supports Florida blueberry producers, primarily through the development of new cultivars with improved yield, timing, disease/pest resistance, fruit quality, and flavor. In addition, the breeding program collaborates with and supports blueberry-related research in plant pathology, entomology, pollination, and production practices. The following are summaries of projects that are currently underway, to keep our producers up to date with the different levels of research occurring in the breeding program, and in collaboration with several UF/IFAS experts.

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Assistance for Farmers Uncertain

Blueberries Currently Not Included in Category 1 CFAP Funding for Losses Due to Coronavirus

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Mexico: An Emerging Power in the Blueberry Market

Blueberry is a relatively new crop for Mexico. The Mexican blueberry production capacity was mostly built over the past 10 years. The acreage of blueberries grown in Mexico broke records almost every year over 2009-2018. In 2018, the planted and harvested acreages reached 9,357 and 8,923 acres, respectively, almost 20 and 19 times higher than those in 2009 (Figure 1). As a result, Mexican blueberry production increased from 4 million pounds in 2009 to 89 million in 2018. Blueberries are grown in 10 states of Mexico, with the major production concentrated in Central Mexico, including Jalisco, Michoacán, and Sinaloa, which are also the major strawberry production states. The national average yield was 9,948 pounds per acre (lb/acre) in 2018. Sinaloa ranked the highest, with an average of yield of 16,059 lb/acre, which was almost 4 times that in Florida. The Mexican blueberry season covers the period from September through June, peaking between February and May, which overlaps the production window of Florida blueberries. 

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For the Crop

New Paraquat Requirements

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Executive Director’s Letter: It’s Time to Drive Home the Message

This 2020 blueberry season, our industry faced unprecedented hardship.

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Farmers Prevail Even Through Toughest Season

This season has been one for the books. Personally, I've been calling it a "doozy." Just as history books teach, I suspect this season will serve as a good lesson for the consumers as well as the farmers.

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President’s Letter

Finding Comfort in the Silver Lining

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New Miticides Labeled for Blueberries

Mites can be a significant pest in Florida southern highbush blueberry fields, particularly southern red mites, in addition to flat mites (false spider mites) and blueberry bud mites. Southern red mites, which tend to flourish during hot dry conditions, typically infest the lower side of leaves, inserting their mouthparts into the leaf and removing cell contents. This results in a characteristic bronze discoloration of the leaves, which can cause a decline in photosynthesis rates and defoliation in the case of significant infestations. 

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Grower’s Thoughts: Blueberry Summer Disease Management

Florida experiences hot, humid, and wet weather throughout summer and early fall, which is favorable for the development of certain diseases in southern highbush blueberries (SHB). These include several fungal leaf diseases, as well as a parasitic alga infection known as algal stem blotch. Being aware of these diseases, the environmental conditions that favor pathogen spread and infection, and establishing an effective management plan will help to mitigate their effect on Florida blueberry orchards.

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Seasonal Planning

The summer growth that occurs in Florida blueberry fields following post-harvest pruning contains most of the fruiting wood for next year’s crop. Therefore, it is important that conditions are suitable to support strong, healthy, vegetative growth throughout the summer.  Irrigation and fertilization are two important practices that contribute to healthy summer growth and the likelihood of good fruit production the following year. 

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Spring Meeting and Other Updates

2020 Updates:

1. Save the Date! Spring Field Day: March 10th, 2020
UF/IFAS Citra Research & Education Center and Straughn Farms to view advanced variety selections 
Look for a registration email soon!

2. As reported in the Blueberry News and previous emails, FDACS has approved a special permit to ship fresh blueberries from Florida to California which previously has been prohibited under California law. 

3. EPA has now approved a supplemental label for Portal Miticide! This supplemental label is good for all crops within the Bushberry subgroup and includes highbush and low bush blueberries. (See attached)

4. You should have received information regarding the new Blueberry Advisory System - this is an invaluable tool available to you, to incorporate in your growing practices to predict and prevent anthracnose root rot.

5. Please note our updated phone number and P.O. Box listed below.

Florida Blueberry Growers Association
PO Box 358086
Gainesville, FL 34635
352-448-1418